Hello, future healthcare informatics!
Today, we're taking a deeper dive into the
backbone of the healthcare world - the
healthcare information systems (HIS).
These systems are our behind-the-scenes
maestros, ensuring everything in healthcare is
So buckle up, and let's explore!
HIS are critical tools in modern healthcare,
used to manage and store patient data.
They improve healthcare delivery by making
patient medical history easily accessible to
all providers involved in a patient's care.
There are many types of HIS, but let's focus
on four major categories:
Hospital Information Systems (HIS)
These are the systems that we use to tell us
how many empty or full beds we have.
Now, consider how useful this information is
in a mass disaster or pandemic.
These systems can tell state, national, and
international stakeholders how much capacity a
region has for treating patients.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) are the
systems that store patient medical data, now
this can be anything including medical
history, diagnoses, medications, treatment
plans, immunization dates, allergies,
radiology images, and laboratory test results.
Now here is a great place to think about the
influence of an informatics professional.
Most EHRs are built with an option to enter
physical assessment data.
Some are designed with a separate form to
complete a psychological assessment.
What about in the situations where a client
The healthcare informaticist professional is
the person to say - hey!
Let’s avoid double, triple and quadruple
charting on multiple screens for multiple
reasons. Leveraging knowledge of software
development, the informaticist can suggest
solutions like autofill features, or layering
of forms for data entered by the same provider
at a set time. Practice Management Software
(PMS): These systems handle the day-to-day
operations of medical practices, like
scheduling appointments and managing billing.
This technology maximizes the efficiency of
the comprehensive healthcare team.
Now it does this by automating information such as how much each test or lab costs, so this saves data entry
time and generate bills and track payments.
Laboratory Information Systems (LIS): manage
data in a clinical laboratory, like tracking
and processing samples and generating
Consider how useful it is for a clinical lab
to be able to run a report that shows them all
the abnormal values for a particular machine
against other machines in the lab.
These kinds of reports are useful in seeing
the big picture of trends and help figure out
how reliable and valid lab results are for
the whole lab, not just one patient at a time.
Now, let's talk about how these systems
interact with each other.
The magic word here is 'Interoperability' -
the ability of different HIS to communicate,
exchange data, and use the information that
has been exchanged.
For instance, a patient's data can move from
a hospital's EHR to a specialist's PMS,
ensuring seamless care.
Interoperability is enabled by a set of
standardized coding systems, which allow HIS
to talk the same language.
To understand this better, let’s begin with an
Imagine trying to order a pizza in a foreign
country without knowing the language.
That's where standardized nomenclatures come
They're like the agreed language or code that
healthcare systems use to chat with each
other. Let's start by introducing you to a
major player in this arena, SNOMED CT, now
that stands for Systematized Nomenclature of
Medical Clinical Terms.
Think of SNOMED CT as a medical dictionary
that's universally understood.
So, if a doctor in Los Angeles wants to share
medical records with a specialist in New York,
they can both 'speak SNOMED CT'.
It ensures they can communicate clearly about
the patient's condition, treatments, and more,
which means no misunderstandings and better
In SNOMED CT, each unique medical term, or
'concept', is assigned an identification
number, known as a 'concept ID'.
For instance, the 'concept ID' for 'open
fracture of tibia' could be
193817009. Also, each concept might have
different descriptions, but they'll all link
back to the same 'concept ID'.
How is this helpful? Well, because even if one
hospital uses the term "open fracture of
tibia" and another uses the term "open tibial
fracture," the data transfer should still work
seamlessly. This is because both labs use the
same language (SNOMED CT), which assigns the
same code to both terms.
This smart system allows for precise
communication and understanding across the
entire healthcare spectrum, so no matter
where or with whom you're communicating, it's
as straightforward as ordering your favorite
Next, we have LOINC, the Logical Observation
Identifiers Names and Codes.
Let's say a patient gets their blood work done
in two different labs.
LOINC works similtar to SNOMED CT.
It helps healthcare professionals label these
results uniformly so that, irrespective of the
lab, doctors and nurses can interpret and
compare them easily.
So, simply put, LOINC is often used for
laboratory tests and observations.
So, even if one lab abbreviates "Hemoglobin"
as "Hb" and another lab uses the full name,
the data transfer should still work
seamlessly because both labs use the same
language. LOINC assigns the same code (for
example “718-7”) to both terms.
The last coding system in our list is the
ICD-10, the International Classification of
Diseases, 10th Revision.
This one follows the same logic as the
previous ones with the difference that ICD-10
is used primarily for morbidity and mortality
reporting and billing.
ICD-10 classifies diseases, symptoms,
abnormal findings, complaints, social
circumstances, and external causes of injury
It is widely used in hospitals and healthcare
facilities for disease reporting and
statistical purposes, and in any scenario
where it is necessary to code a diagnosis or
cause of death. So, ICD-10 codes help
healthcare professionals identify relevant
medical cases, aiding in research and policy
So, let’s quickly summarize this.
In terms of differences, ICD-10 is more
focused on diagnosis coding for billing
purposes, while SNOMED CT is broader and more
detailed, and it’s suitable for clinical notes
and procedures in electronic health records.
LOINC, on the other hand, is focused on
laboratory and other observational data.
So, while they might overlap to a certain
extent, each of these coding systems has its
unique purpose and usage in healthcare.